[Album Review] Hello, World (1st Mini Album) – Xdinary Heroes

Xdinary Heroes is nominated for Best New Male Group and Best Band Performance in the 2022 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. Support Xdinary Heroes, and your other favourite artists, songs, and performance by clicking here to vote today!

As flagged a couple of weeks ago through my review of the side track Strawberry Cake, I will be reviewing Xdinary Heroes’ first mini-album since their debut. The mini-album is titled Hello, World and was released back in July of 2022. Alongside Strawberry Cake, the mini-album also features the title track Test Me and 3 additional side tracks. More recently, the band returned in November with a second mini-album, Overload, which I will be returning to review some time in the near future! In the meanwhile, here is my review for Hello, World. It explores more of the band’s potential that they displayed through their debut single (Happy Death Day) whilst also exploring more of the rock genre. Both of which highlights the force that Xdinary Heroes could become in the future.

Hello, World Album Cover

1. Test Me (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Test Me. (7.5/10)

2. Knock DownKnock Down is an awesome rock track. The verses showed promise, but the highlight came during the chorus. The chorus had a beat that had head-nodding potential. It is then followed by some really memorable and catchy ‘Na Na Na’ and some interjections from the members. The bridge had some amazing hype energy that allowed the song to reach a cool and fantastic beat. (9/10)

3. Sucker Punch – If the previous song had head nodding potential, then Sucker Punch had some foot stomping potential. This created a really strong atmosphere, and it also showed off some great vocals. Then they took a pause to make way for the pre-chorus, before launching into the satisfying chorus that goes in hard. We do get some ‘Na Na Na’ in this song, as well, but they were not as in the previous song. The bridge, however, was the highlight of Sucker Punch. It also had some great hype energy in the first half. We go into acoustic-like territory for the second half of the bridge, which served as a nice stilling moment, before an instrumental moment comes to launch us back into the final chorus. (9/10)

4. Strawberry Cake – Click here to read the full review for Strawberry Cake. (8/10)

5. Pirates – Out of all the songs on this mini-album, Pirates is probably Xdinary Heroes’ best foot forward in their vocal department. Their vocals (despite being autotuned to varying degrees) in this song were super impressive, especially during the soaring pre-choruses and at the end. I thought the slower tempo and paced instrumental was very interesting and creates a somewhat tense but unique backdrop, while the brass was a very intriguing addition to the song. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.3/10

Hello, World Teaser Image

[Review] Strawberry Cake – Xdinary Heroes

Xdinary Heroes is nominated for Best New Male Group and Best Band Performance in the 2022 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. Support Xdinary Heroes, and your other favourite artists, songs, and performance by clicking here to vote today!

I guess if you are seeing a review for a side-track, you can confidently say that an album review is coming you way. In order to complete the album review for Xdinary Heroes’ 1st ever mini-album, Hello World, which was released back in July of this year (and features the title track Test Me), I need to review Strawberry Cake, a single from the mini-album that was selected for follow-up promotions. In terms of the album review, it isn’t scheduled until very early 2023. So keep your eyes open for that. But for now, here is another Xdinary Heroes’ review, this time for Strawberry Cake.

When you think of a song titled Strawberry Cake, you might think of something sweet or even potentially cute sounding. While that would be quite a stretch for Xdinary Heroes, who has ventured through the different styles of rocks since their debut, I was expecting something more along the lines of pop rock for this track (best of both worlds). Instead, Strawberry Cake delves into a punkish style of rock and spins the idea of a Strawberry Cake into a partner that acts sweet, but ends up being fake and a liar. I liked the paced lurching momentum the verses had, and the ramp-up to the chorus was clean. The chorus was a bit unexpected. With the shouty ‘Strawberry Cake‘ that kicked off the chorus, I expected the song to follow through with a robust and blastful punk rock piece. But instead, there is no drop and that expectation does not eventuate. Rather, we get an instrumental piece that serves like an anti-drop that we tend to find with EDM songs. It was an interesting flip and one that I find to help make Strawberry Cake come off as unique. Towards the end of the chorus, we do get into that blastful trajectory, but it doesn’t get too far, keeping in in-line with what Strawberry Cake has given us thus far. This ‘anti-drop’ like approach does allow the focus to be put on the members and their vocals. I really like the oomph and passion they put behind their vocals in this song, which speaks volumes and express the discontent and upset message behind the lyrics of the song. Overall, an unexpected twist to Strawberry Cake, but one that displays Xdinary Heroes’ creativity and individuality.

I understand that Strawberry Cake is just additional promotion for the group and doesn’t necessarily require a full fledged music video like the title track. But the difference between Test Me and Strawberry Cake‘s video is pretty night and day. Test Me had a video that was filmed with CGI technology, while Strawberry Cake was virtually empty. It is more of a performance piece than anything else. Strawberry Cake was shot in a train carriage, packing the group (and their instruments) into a very tight narrow space for all of the video. It doesn’t highlight the punkish sound that I mentioned nor does it add value to the side track. The video could have gone with a simple plot line featuring a relationship breakdown to aid the lyrics, or some sort of visual effect to really amplify the song’s sound/style. Just something to give the video Strawberry Cake a bit more body than just the group playing their instruments (though I appreciate the passion they are putting into the performance aspect of the video).

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 6/10

Overall Rating – 7.2/10

[Review] Hair Cut – Xdinary Heroes

Xdinary Heroes is nominated for Best New Male Group and Best Band Performance in the 2022 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. Support Xdinary Heroes, and your other favourite artists, songs, and performance by clicking here to vote today!

After making a comeback in July of this year with Test Me, Xdinary Heroes made a slightly speedy comeback (relative to the period between their debut and their first comeback) with their latest single Hair Cut and the mini-album Overload. Just over a year ago, Xdinary Heroes made their debut with Happy Death Day, which earned them a few accolades at the recent MAMA Awards and nominations in the 2022 KPOPREVIEWED Award (where fan voting is still open).

Xdinary Heroes’ Hair Cut is quite a unique track, and I liked it for the most part. I appreciate the ambition this group has, exploring different areas of rock that haven’t really been approached by KPOP bands in the past. For Hair Cut, the band delves into a punkish form of rock. What they did in the first verse and pre-chorus was quite likeable. There was potential behind these segments and their delivery of these segments (i.e. vocals), and I enjoyed how Hair Cut ramps up to the choruses. But the trouble comes next. We are met with a low groaning ‘Get a hair cut’ repetition that was quite unsettling for me. We also get some scissor or knife sound effects, which didn’t add any value to the song. This all comes before a hard-hitting second half of the chorus, which is my preferred centrepiece for the song. But unfortunately, as a whole, the chorus pretty much disappointed me. The lack of cohesion, hooks that I was comfortable with or even memorable melodies upset the overall appeal of Hair Cut for me, and stuck out like a sore thumb. The chorus is then followed up with a rap verse, which was another miss element for me. The whole rap segment stripped out everything from instrumental to momentum, leaving Hair Cut bare and empty for a moment, and the whispery delivery itself (sorry Gaon) felt soulless. O.de’s contribution was fairly more promising, but that might because he was helping ramping Hair Cut back to mor enjoyable territory from quite a low point. The pre-chorus and chorus repeats, and my thoughts on both (positive and negative) have already been noted. The bridge portion of Hair Cut was a nice return to form and sounded solid. Then we go back to the not-so-good chorus. I was hoping they switch things up at this point, to give a satisfying end. But that didn’t eventuate. We did manage to get an instrumental outro, which I thought was decent. But with the mix feelings prior to this instrumental outro, it didn’t have a huge impact and swung me into liking or disliking the song. Overall, Hair Cut‘s chorus leaves quite an impact and not in a good way.

I am not one to usually negatively comment on members’ visuals. And I understand it is their concept for this comeback and all, but Xdinary Heroes really need to take advice from their own books and get a hair cut. This era is probably one they will regret in the future for the wacky and awful hair-do the members were forced into. I can already imagine the interviews consistently pulling up pictures from their Hair Cut days and the members expressing embarrassment over them. Aside from that, I do like their edgy profile, which works well with the punkish rock sound I mentioned earlier. I also like the use of the ‘scary fun-house’ location within the theme park, which seems to be JYP Entertainment’s go to location this year. As for the outro, I want to know what that ending means, with the police report being made and being reviewed. Potentially setting up for a future comeback? Who knows.

Song – 6/10
Music Video – 7/10
Overall Rating – 6.4/10

[Review] Test Me – Xdinary Heroes

It is time for another review for a release from the near past. The focus of this review is on Xdinary Heroes’ long awaited comeback with Test Me, their first release since their debut with Happy Death Day back in December. Test Me was released less than a month ago as the title track from the group’s first mini-album, Hello World. A music video for the side track and secondary promotional single Strawberry Cake was released in the middle of this week and will be the subject of its own review post in the near future. But until then, here is my review for Test Me.

Test Me is a song that I find myself easily jamming to. Most days, I find Test Me having just the right level of energy to get my head nodding to the music. On the more optimal days, you can find me potentially going into a head banging motion instead whilst listening to the song. There was a subtle electrifying feel to the instrumental that really gets me going. Though I am of the opinion that the group could easily had gone harder, bolder and more pronounced on this front within Test Me. The brief repetition of the song’s title that is shouted out, which serves as the main hook to the song, was catchy and memorable enough for me. The rapping in the second verse was super engaging and packed a punch. Similarly, the vocals do the exact same thing, but there is less of a punch in this department. However, Test Me is slightly weak in sections. I didn’t enjoy the second half of the chorus as much I liked the first half. I felt the momentum unraveled or disengaged in the latter half of the chorus, which stuck out for me. I wished the momentum was maintained. The bridge was also another weak moment, with the layering being unsatisfying and unfulfilling. Had Test Me gone harder (and the same energy was transferred to this part, as well), I think the idea of layering in the bridge would have been more satisfying. But aside from the song’s weaker moment, Test Me still manages to be a likeable song for me.

The music video has this futuristic concept that I thought was very cool. The coloured neon lights and robotics in this music video was really great and fun, even if it was all virtual and computerised. In terms of a plotline, a competition to determine the best rock artist is happening, but the winner was pre-selected from the very beginning. Xdinary Heroes themselves also participated, but were disqualified even before their song began. So they make it their mission to rig the system and get into the final, where they defeat the preselected winner and took the trophy home themselves. All is great, but the question at the start of the video, however, is probably the more intriguing element of this video – “Are Xdinary Heroes the villain or hero” in this case, since they rigged the already rigged system. What is a playful and fun video ended up turning into a moral dilemma. I like it!

Song – 7.5/10
Music Video – 8.5/10
Overall Rating – 7.9/10

[Review] Happy Death Day – Xdinary Heroes

Support your favourite artists, songs and performances in the 2021 KPOPREVIEWED Awards by clicking here to vote today!

I take a break from the reviews for Best Rap or Hip Hop Song category to focus on a new debut! Xdinary Heroes mark the start of their careers today with the release of Happy Death Day. This new band is made up of six members (Gunil, Jungsu, Gaon, O.de, Jun Han, and Jooyeon) and they join the growing roster of groups at JYP Entertainment – the home of 2PM, DAY6, TWICE, Stray Kids and ITZY.

The best way that I can think of to describe Happy Death Day is that it is wild. The song delves pretty heavily into the punk genre, and hits hard during the chorus (which the song begins with). It is a blast of energy that I did not expect, but I thought was great! It captures your attention from the get go, which is a promising start to any one’s career. It also helps that the ‘Tra La La La’ hook, and pretty much the rest of the chorus, was super catchy. What also makes the song standout a bit more is its unique sound. The punk genre has been touched on by some groups in the past, but I don’t think any group or band has gone as hard as Xdinary Heroeos have in Happy Death Day. This definitely sets the group apart from the bands that preceded it and that they may rival (provided they keep this individualistic character in their songs). The members also do a great job with their vocals. They really brought in a lot of character, especially in the choruses, that make the Happy Death Day so much more approachable, individualistic and colourful (in the punk way). I liked how barely of the vocals felt straight forward, especially with those groans and the rap-speak style. It definitely makes the song more memorable and interesting. That being said, the more straight forward vocal sequences such as the pre-choruses and the first half of the bridge were also very good. Overall, Happy Death Day embraces boldness and being different, which sets it apart from the rest of the competition. If they continue to do this, then they for sure will be a force to be reckoned with.

How twisted is this music video? The premise of this music video is a child’s birthday party, where the members are invited to be the entertainment for the party – a clown band. But that image doesn’t fit the song. So the members rip off their clown accessories and proceed to rock out. But what lead them to this? They were sent to bring back the attention of the guests, by pointing out that while the kid was celebrating its birthday, the party guests were all disinterested in the whole event, even being on their phones during the most important part of the party – the blowing out of the candles (most important because you get cake right after). But the message the video was trying to get at is that the party could have been a birthday celebration or a ‘Happy Death Day’ celebration, marking the kid’s one step closer to its death, and the guests would not even notice. I did say it was a twisted video, but well thought out if I was being honest. Elsewhere, the members perform on the roof of a virtual world and the underground basement of a building. The ending seems to suggest a continuation, so I guess we will be seeing more of the virtual world in the future.

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 8/10
Overall Rating – 8.6/10